Mid-Year Skills and Certifications Report Card

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Since the Great Recession ended seven years ago, the premium that employers are willing to pay for specific tech skills and certifications has swung wildly from one quarter to the next, like a yo-yo.

Despite that volatility, there have been some clear winners and losers in terms of tech jobs’ market value over the first six months of the 2016.

David Foote, chief analyst at Foote Partners LLC, provided a snapshot of the certified and non-certified skills that have experienced the biggest increase (or decrease) in value since the start of the year, based on surveys of more than 2,900 U.S. and Canadian employers reported in the IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index.

(Note: Premium pay in this context refers to a cash payment or guaranteed bonus outside of salary that employers are willing to pay to tech professionals with specific skills.)

IT Certifications: Market Value Gainers

Collectively, the 77 information and cybersecurity certifications tracked by Foote Partners have outperformed all other categories, rising 4.4 percent in value between January 1 and June 30.

“Security has moved from a compliance expenditure to a discretionary expenditure,” Foote explained. “Companies are willing to invest more as the threats intensify and expand, and that’s driving up the value of certifications. If you look across the category, penetration testing was the biggest winner.”

The premium pay that employers are willing to shell out for the following three security certs rose 40 to 50 percent:

  • GIAC Enterprise Defender (GCED)
  • GIAC Certified Firewall Analyst (GCFW)
  • EC-Council Certified Security Analyst (ECSA)

The next four certs—encompassing a broader range of categories—increased in value by 25 to 33 percent:

  • Linux Professional Institute certification (LPIC-Level 3)
  • EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI)
  • CompTIA Server+
  • Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (all)

Long-Term Winners

While these certs may not have experienced some of the largest increases in value over the last six months, they registered noteworthy gains of between 18 to 26 percent; Foote believes they will continue to increase in value going forward:

  • PMI Program Management Professional (PgMP)
  • Certified Cyber Forensics Professional (CCFP)
  • Certified Forensic Computer Examiner (CFCE)
  • GIAC Secure Software Programmer-Java (GSSP-JAVA)
  • Six Sigma Master Black Belt and Black Belt

IT Certifications: Market Value Decliners

Foote attributed the drop in market value for the two certs from Juniper Networks to the maturity of the programs, allowing the supply of certified talent to catch up with demand. The surprising decline in an associate level PM certification is due to the growth of more challenging roles that call for far more experience. The decreases for these five certs ranged from 25 to 37.5 percent:

  • Juniper Networks Certified Specialist Security (JNCIS)
  • Juniper Networks Certified Internet Professional (JNCIP)
  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
  • CompTIA Network+
  • Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE)

Non-Certified Skills: Market Value Gainers

The following skills experienced an increase in market value ranging from 28.6 to 50 percent over the first six months of the year:

  • SAP MII (Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence)
  • SAP FI (Financial Accounting)
  • SAP SRM (Supplier Relationship Management)
  • EMC Documentum
  • Complex Event Processing/Event Correlation
  • J.D. Edwards (Oracle)
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Front End Development

Long-Term Winners

If you’re looking to boost your market value, Foote is also bullish on the following noncertified skills that have been rising in value. In fact, he predicts that their value will continue to grow for the rest of this year and into the first quarter of 2017.

  • Prescriptive Analytics
  • Predictive Analytics and Modeling
  • Apache Zookeeper
  • DevOps
  • Apache Spark
  • Cloudera Impala
  • Six Sigma/Lean Six Sigma
  • Amazon RedShift
  • Redis

Non-Certified Skills: Market Value Decliners

These non-certified skills posted declines ranging from 25 to 37.5 percent since the start of the year:

  • JavaFX
  • Oracle CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
  • SAP CS (Customer Service)
  • SAP Xcelsius
  • SAP Service Management (SM)
Image Credit: Shutterstock.com/jakkapan

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